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Decide if you use the definite article, the indefinite article or no article. If you do not use an article, choose the dash (-).
Rotkäppchen und der Wolf
Es war einmal Mädchen.[Once upon a time there was a girl.]|the girl is mentioned for the first time → indefinite article Mädchen lebte mit seiner Mutter Dorf am Waldesrand.[The girl lived with her mother in a small village on the edge of the forest.]1st gap: the girl has already been mentioned → definite articlel|2nd gap – 2 possibilities:|1st possibilty: the reader knows which village it is because there is only one village on the edge of the forest → deifinte article.|2nd possibility: the village is unknown → indefinite article Seine Großmutter hatte Häuschen Wald.[Her grandmother had a nice cottage in the forest]|1st gap: the cottage is mentioned for the first time → indefinite article|2nd gap: we're talking about about a specific forest (there is only one forest near the village) → definite article Als Mädchen klein war, nähte Großmutter ihm Käppchen aus Samt.[When the girl was little, her grandmother sewed her a riding hood of red velvet.]1st gap: the girl has already been mentioned → definite articlel|2nd gap: the grandmother has already been mentioned → definite article (if it’s about the story teller’s grandmother the article could also be left out.)|In English we would say her grandmother or grandmother and not the grandmother. However, in German you can say ihre Großmutter (her grandmother), Großmutter (grandmother),or die Großmutter (the grandmother).|3rd gap: the riding hood is mentioned for the first time and is not unique → indefinite article|4th gap: name of material → no article Käppchen war so hübsch, dass Mädchen es Tag und Nacht trug. Seitdem nannten es alle nur Rotkäppchen.[The riding hood was so beautiful that the girl wore it day and night. Since then, everybody called her Little Red Riding Hood.]|1st and 2nd gap: The riding hood and the girl have already been mentioned → definite article|3rd and 4th gap: Tag und Nacht is a set phrase with two nouns → no article
Eines Tages erkrankte Großmutter.[One day the grandmother was taken ill.]|the grandmother has already been mentioned → definite article Mutter rief Rotkäppchen in Küche und sagte:[The mother called Little Red Riding Hood into the kitchen and said:]|1st gap: the mother has already been mentioned, and the girl only has one mother → definite articlel|2nd gap: a house usually only has one kitchen so it is a specific kitchen → definite article „ Rotkäppchen, hier hast du ein Stück Kuchen und eine Flasche Wein, bringe sie zur Großmutter, damit sie schneller gesund wird.“ [“Little Red Riding Hood, here is a piece of cake and a bottle of wine, take them to your grandmother so that she gets better faster.”]|1st gap: addressing someone directly → no article|2nd and 3rd gap: in noun phrases (ein Stück Kuchen (a piece of cake), eine Flasche Wein (a bottle of wine), ein Glas Sekt (a glass of sparkling wine)) we do not use an article before the second noun. Also machte sich Rotkäppchen auf Weg.[So Little Red Riding Hood set out on her way.]|sich auf den Weg machen is a set phrase.
Sobald Rotkäppchen in Wald kam, begegnete ihm Wolf.[As soon as Little Red Riding Hood entered the forrest she met an evil wolf.]|1st gap: it is a specific, previously mentioned forrest → definite article|2nd gap: – 2 possibilities:|1st possibilty: it is about about a specific wolf (the fairytale is called “Rotkäppchen und der Wolf” → definite article|2nd posibility: it is about a wolf which has been mentioned for the first time → indefinite article
– „Wohin gehst du, Rotkäppchen?“ fragte Wolf.[“Where are you going, Little Red Riding Hood?” asked the wolf.]|1st gap: directly addressing someone → no article| 2nd gap: the wolf has already been mentioned → definite article
– „Zu meiner Großmutter,“ antwortete Rotkäppchen.
– „Und wo wohnt deine Großmutter?“
– „Kennst du riesige Eiche, die Jahr vom Blitz getroffen wurde? Unter dieser Eiche steht ihr Häuschen.“[–“To my grandmother” answered Little Red Riding Hood.|–“And where does your grandmother live?”|–“Do you know the huge oak tree that was hit by lightening last year? Her house is under that oak tree.”]1st gap: it’s about a specific oak tree (it is closely defined by a relative clause) → definite article|2nd gap: we do not use articles with temporal adverbs such as letztes Jahr (last year), Mitte August (the middle of August)
Daraufhin verabschiedete sich Wolf und lief ganz schnell Häuschen der Großmutter.[Then the wolf said goodbye and ran very quickly to the grandmother’s house.]|1st gap: the wolf has already been mentioned → definite article|2nd gap: it’s about a specific house (the grandmother’s house) → indefinite article Er sprang auf Bett, in dem Großmutter lag, fraß sie auf und legte sich selbst unter die Decke.[He jumped on to the bed where the grandmother lay.]|1st gap: it’s about a specific bed (which is closely defined by a relative clause) → definite article|2nd gap: the grandmother has already been mentioned → definite article
Schließlich kam auch Rotkäppchen am Häuschen an, drückte Türklinke und ging hinein.[Finally, Little Red Riding Hood arrived at the cottage, turned the door handle and went inside.]|it’s about a specific door handle (one that lets you into the cottage) → definite article Die Großmutter lag auf dem Bett unter einer dicken Decke und sah etwas seltsam aus. Rotkäppchen fragte:
– „ Aber Großmutter, warum hast du so Augen?“[The grandmother lay on the bed under a thick blanket, she looked a little strange. Little Red Riding Hood said:|–“Grandmother, what big eyes you have!”]|1st gap: directly addressing someone → no article|2nd gap: we never use the definite article after so (so) and solche (such)
– „Damit ich dich besser sehen kann.“
– „Und warum hast du so Ohren?“[–“All the better to see you with.”|–“And what big ears you have!”]|we never use the definite article after so (so) and solche (such)
– „Damit ich dich besser hören kann.“
– „Und warum hast du so Zähne?“[–“All the better to hear you with.”|–“And what big teeth you have!”]|we never use the definite article after so (so) and solche (such)
– „Damit ich dich fressen kann! “ schrie Wolf, stürzte sich auf Rotkäppchen und fraß Mädchen auf. Vollgefressen, schlief er ein und begann, laut zu schnarchen.[–“All the better to eat you with!” Cried the wolf, he pounced on little red riding hood and ate the poor girl. Stuffed, he slept and began to snore loudly.]|1st and 2nd gap: the wolf and the girl have already been mentioned → definite article
Etwas später kam Jäger Haus vorbei.A little later, a hunter came by the cottage.|1st gap – 2 possibilities:|1st possibility: the hunter is mentioned for the first time → indefinite article|2nd possibility: it’s about a specific hunter (because in this village there is only one hunter) → definite article|2nd gap: it’s about a specific, previously mentioned cottage → definite article Er wunderte sich, warum die alte Frau so laut schnarchte, schaute Häuschen hinein und sah Wolf.[He wondered why the old woman was snoring so loudly, looked in the cottage and saw the wolf.]1st gap: it’s about a specific, previously mentioned cottage → preposition (in) + definite article (das) = ins|2nd gap – 2 possibilities:|1st possibility: The wolf has already been mentioned → definite article|2nd possibility: from the hunter’s perspective there is a wolf (the hunter sees a wolf in the place of the old woman) → indefinite article Da nahm er sein Messer und schlitzte Wolf Bauch auf. Rotkäppchen und seine Großmutter kamen gesund und munter heraus.[Then he took his knife and slit open the belly of the wolf. Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother came out lively and healthy.]|1st gap: the wolf has already been mentioned → definite article|2nd gap: the wolf only has one belly → definite article